Saturday, June 19, 2010


Yesterday I discovered a huge bowl of okra in the kitchen. That can only mean one thing, soupakanja was on the menu for today's lunch. Once I asked Deenba and Jeenaba to confirm I told all the women in the house that was going to cook lunch for myself since I don't like soupakanja and I don't want them to have to do extra work and make anything extra for me. I detailed plans of a salad and maybe some pasta to show how serious I was and this morning I set out early for the market and to do some errands.

First stop was the post office where I got a letter from Shirley! Thanks Shirley! And then I was on to the main market. The fact that it was Saturday did not dawn upon me until I saw the market completely packed with people. Intimidated and ready for hassle I pressed on. Lettuce, tomatoes, and green beens were easy finds and purchases. I also picked up a few bowls and forks since my family seems to mysteriously acquire utensils that were mine. I also went by one of the supermarkets to buy chocolate bars to give the winning team of my Junior Achievement competition on Monday. Those were all easy things. I was also on the hunt for some shelves because I have miscellaneous items on the floor around my door and I'm sick of the clutter.

I remembered from my training days that there is a quasi furniture market on the road that leads from Thies to Tivuouane, my home stay town. I set out from the market with all of my purchases, a half full water bottle, and the sun absolutely beating down on me in my quest for shelves. Instead of being smart and getting in a clando, a shared taxi that picks up random people on the side of the road, I decided to walk. As I kept realizing that the market was further than I previously thought I stubbornly refused to get in a cab or a clando in order to get to my destination. I just walking while turning a brighter shade of red and sweating profusely. A half hour into the walk I almost gave up, 45 minutes into the walk I had almost convinced myself that I was wrong about the location of the roadside market, an hour into the walk I asked a little girl where the market was and when she told me it was far I for some reason kept going. One hour and five minutes into the journey, with the little girl trailing me and asking for money, I thought I saw a mirage, but it was actually the market I was looking for!

Immediately upon arrival I was swarmed with vendors who all wanted me to buy random pieces of furniture from them. Swatting small children away as I tried to look for good shelves, I finally found what I was looking for in one of the last stalls. I then heard perhaps the most ridiculous price quote that I've heard in Senegal. The man wanted 20,000 CFA for the shelves I wanted. I asked him if he was joking and then told him that with that 20k I would take him to a doctor to have his head checked out, but I would not buy his shelves. He thought this was about the funniest thing that anyone had ever said and brought the price down to 10k. The maximum I was willing to be pay was 5k so I said 3k and we finally arrived at 5k. I'm sure I was stilled ripped of, but I got exactly what I wanted and I was flush with the success of my adventure in finding the market.

Hauling my shelves into our compound after taking a cab Deenba greets me with her "You are so weird. What have you done now?" face. At this point I was the color of a tomato and dripping in sweat, but I proudly displayed my shelves and vegetable purchases. She was highly unimpressed, but humored me none the less. She also told me that she had already bought eggs for my lunch. No one has any faith that I can feed myself. I'm really starting to find this fact annoying. I may not understand everything they say to me, but that does not mean that I haven't previously survived living on my own and feeding myself. My family thinks that because they hate everything that I make that it really is just truly disgusting and therefore uneatable even for me. I had eggs for lunch and then ate salad alone in my room.

The rest of my day was spent writing names on Junior Achievement certificates, watching Deenba and Jeenaba chop onions because I can't be trusted with knives, watching soccer, and trying to avoid conversations about going to the beach with Petit and his friends tomorrow. We're having chicken for dinner so I'll go watch Deenba cook and try and help her out a little bit.


  1. Alyssa,

    I wonder if they saw the PC rule that you can not operate motor vehicles and assume that knives and other dangerous equipment are also included. It is interesting that they don't think that you would like food that you cook yourself just because they don't like it. I of course would like that because of my lasziness relative to cooking. I would live on the biscreemsa and cholate bars.


  2. I like the shelf......African modern? That is a badass picture on top!

  3. Alyssa...
    I either start or end my day with your blog...and I love reading it!
    You are quite the story teller with a wonderful sense of humor.
    I saw your mom in the Target parking lot the other day....
    She looks amazing. She was on a quest to find you meals in packets...
    kind of reminded me of camping food. After reading your blog...I've come to conclude that food in packets is a real treat.
    And I agree with you regarding the consistency of okra...not pleasant!
    Your new shelves are very chic... a nice addition to your room.
    I look forward to many more stories...